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Automated monitoring of lameness in dairy cattle using facial expression analysis (Newcastle, iCASE award)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Leach
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Safeguarding livestock health and welfare is vital for food security by ensuring sustainability, safe food and meeting consumer ethical standards. Developing effective and practicable on-farm health and welfare surveillance techniques will be integral to the future of sustainable food production. This project seeks to develop an automated on-farm surveillance system of lameness in dairy cattle using facial expression analysis. Lameness is a critical production associated disease affecting around 35% of the UK dairy herds. It is a considered a critical productivity issue as it is linked to reduced milk yield, reproductive efficacy and overall herd productivity. It is also a major welfare issue, due to the level and duration of discomfort caused and number of animals affected. The main goals of this project are to test the effectiveness of facial expressions for assessing lameness in dairy cattle and to develop an automated tool for assessing the facial expressions associated with lameness. The development of automated surveillance techniques is an opportunity for cutting edge interdisciplinary research. It will appeal to students wishing to pursue a career in computer vision applications to challenging real-world applications, as it involves the development, validation and application of video segmentation and analysis techniques for a challenging application domain. Computer vision research for livestock analysis is an emerging field with enormous potential with regards to career prospects and real-world impact. Through both the project and the joint supervision at Newcastle and Liverpool Universities the student will have the opportunity to gain a wide range of skills: including established and novel means of lameness scoring; the development, validation and application of advanced computer vision and machine learning techniques; cattle husbandry; and experimental design.

For further information see the website: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/afrd/

To apply:
Please submit a full CV and covering letter directly to [email protected]

Funding Notes

This is a 4 year BBSRC iCASE studentship under the Newcastle-Liverpool-Durham DTP. The successful applicant will receive research costs, tuition fees and stipend (£14,057 for 2015-16). The PhD will start in September 2016. Applicants should have, or be expecting to receive, a 2.1 Hons degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. EU candidates must have been resident in the UK for 3 years in order to receive full support. There are 2 stages to the application process.

References

Dalla Costa E, Minero M, Lebelt D, Stucke D, Canali E, Leach MC. (2014) Development of the Horse Grimace Scale (HGS) as a Pain Assessment Tool in Horses Undergoing Routine Castration. PLoS ONE 9(3).

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